New Port

I went to New Port, located in Wakullah County, on 2/8/2017. I completed Wakullah County today. Yayee!

According to the ghost town website,

Newport (New Port on some maps) was born from a hurricane when fellow ghost town Port Leon, the county seat of newly formed Wakulla County, was obliterated. By October of 1843, mere weeks after the storm, many Port Leon residents had relocated further up the St. Marks River, about 3 miles north of the town of St. Marks. Only 6 months after Wakulla County’s creation on March 11, 1843, there was now a 2nd county seat. Newport streets were laid out in a typical grid fashion. Starting at the St. Marks River Bay, Pine, Elm and West were laid out with New, Washington, Market and Adams streets bisecting them. Plank Road eventually ran from Bay St. north to Leon County. There was a bridge that crossed the St. Marks River at Adams, which is Hwy 98 today. Daniel Ladd and his uncles, The Hamlins (of note for settling the now defunct city of Magnolia a little further north of Newport), settled into their new locale by building a sawmill, foundry, two hotels, stores, turpentine stills, a shipping port (Wakulla Iron Works), and many residences. In this prime location, Ladd controlled shipping in and out of the area prior to the railroads re-arrival at St. Marks. Even after the railroad was rebuilt (post 1843 hurricane), the Plank Road (still in existence today, albeit dirt) was instrumental in Newport’s mercantile prominence. At one time there was as many as 1500 residents with the Wakulla Hotel and other town establishments doing a brisk business. Cotton, dry goods, livestock and turpentine made frequent trips through the port. Just north of Newport was Newport Springs, a popular tourist spot in the early 20th century. The natural mineral spring waters that fed the St. Marks River, were said to have healing qualities. The area today is most noted for the March 6, 1865 Civil War Battle of Natural Bridge a few miles north of Newport. Where the St. Marks dips underground forming a ‘natural bridge’, Union forces were held at bay by the Confederate forces. However, at one point when the Union was gaining ground, the Confederacy burned the town of Newport in order to prevent its capture. Although the Confederacy prevented the Union army from advancing, thus enabling Tallahassee to stand as the only southern capital never captured by Union forces, the town of Newport was left in ruins to never fully recover. Some reports state that by 1872 (the year of Ladd’s death), there were less than 30 residents. During WWII until what appears to be the early 1970’s, Newport enjoyed some resurgence as a result of the shipbuilding industry, however that has left town as well. Most of the land in Newport is now owned by the St. Joe Company; a Timberland and logging company. Another moment of note in Newport’s history was in 1851. According to Florida State archives, a white Baptist Minister in Newport, Florida ordained James Page also of Newport to become the first and only Black Ordained Minister of his time. By Erik Ransom and Dara Vance

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